Left-liberals remind me of a conversation between a man and a servant in a movie I no longer recall very well. The man tells his servant that he doesn’t know why “dog” is a cuss word. The man says he loves dogs, that dogs are the most lovable animals he’s ever known—and that he’d be honored if someone calls him a “dog”. The servant calls him just that, and gets slapped hard across his face. Left-liberals are like this man. Left-liberals don’t know elementary social science. But this is not the only reason why they don’t see themselves as cheap, little rascals. They are not introspective enough. So they are not able to see how their conscious beliefs clash with their assumptions.

Now how do their beliefs clash with their assumptions?

A few weeks ago, the Supreme Court upheld death penalty for the four convicts in the Delhi rape case. Liberals condescendingly call this girl “Nirbhaya”. Even her mother thinks there is something wrong with this. It’s a damning indictment of Indian journalism that even today, virtually all Indian journalists believe rape is not about sex. Every self-aware man knows this is nonsense. Every decent researcher who professionally handles literature on gender knows this is nonsense. Feminist dogma is not science. Activists, politicians and journalists are not scholars. It is entirely besides the point that many unhappy single women well past their prime think rape is about power. Facts lie flatly against this. All credible scholars think this is nonsense. But lame Indian journalists are convinced that rape is about power and abuse. Why does this happen? The really smart kids don’t become journalists. So, it’s not surprising you see all the shabbiness of third world self-styled intellectuals in its fully glory in Indian journalists. But why are they so bent on believing that rape is about power? There are many reasons, but this is one reason: They assume if rape has roots in male sexual desire, rape is excusable. Continue Reading

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The people who read the newspapers believe that people are at each other’s throats. But, the probability of I being murdered, or your child being kidnapped is way too low. The reason is, of course, that the media discusses journalistic concretes, but not fundamental abstractions. To answer the really complex questions, we need broad empirical evidence and abstract reasoning. This is why news, especially Indian journalism is worthless. Aakar Patel claims that the world is a good place, though the newspapers might tell you otherwise.

People are not continually at each others throats. True enough. But, if we judge people as bad only if they’re at each other’s throats, we are setting the bar way too low. People are quite awful. Deception is the norm in human interactions. But, do people believe that the world is a “bad place” because the newspaper tells them so? I think not. People read news reports on deception or politicking in human subgroups as if it is “news”. It doesn’t occur to them that this is the norm, and not a transient cultural abberation. Now, why do people overestimate the risk of homicide or burglary, but underestimate the extent of deception in the market or the marketplace of democratic politics? I think David Livingstone Smith a good explanation:

“The power to deceive is our main weapon in the struggle for social survival. Like it or not, without it, we are sheep in the company of wolves. Similarly, the power to read intentions from nonverbal expressions is our best safeguard against victimization by others. Without it, we are at their mercy.”

“Immensely rapid, specialized unconscious modules are humming in the background of our minds twenty-four hours a day. We could not get along without them. We could not get manage if we had to consciously coordinate our bodily movements, choose words in a conversation, or laboriously parse streams of sound from people’s mouths into choppy words and sentences. Fortunately, our brains come equipped with pre-installed cognitive software for these tasks, and the same holds true of our ability to understand the meaning of social behavior.

“All social inferences flow from a common set of assumptions, an informal folk-psychological theory of human nature. If the theory is biased, it will deliver faulty appraisals of everyone: not only of oneself, but also of other people. Commonsense assumptions include gems of sagacity such as the notion that self-deception is abnormal, that good people do not lie, that so-called normal people are not motivated by self-interest, and that politicians aspire to serve the public. Such homilies cannot serve as a basis for sound social reasoning, but they are terrific gimmicks for Machiavellian manipulation. The knife of self-deception cuts two ways: you cannot maintain a highly distorted conception of yourself side by side with a true estimate of others.“—Why We Lie, David Livingstone Smith

As Aakar Patel points out, the homicide rate in the US is very low. But, it is still many times higher than the homicide rate in, say, Japan. There are some pretty good arguments why this is so, in Satoshi Kanazawa’s “Order By Accident”. Japan is a conformist society which punishes both criminals and geniuses, because both geniuses and criminals are non-conformists. The US is more individualistic and produces both. But, white collar crimes are far more common in Japan than in individualistic Denmark because we all descended from criminals, aka alpha males. The people in Japan are not likely to refuse if their bosses ask them to do something wrong. 88% of them said that they’d do it. Only 52% (!) in Denmark said that they’d do things for their bosses. People are weak and pathetic. They do not see this as wrong, and wouldn’t admit that the people who toe the official line are rascals. What we call crimes today, like murder, were strategies that helped people acquire status in the past. When the modern governments defined murder or burglary as a crime, what did people do? They channeled their criminal instincts into acts that are not too visible to the naked eyes of the mush-headed. 

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Income inequality is considered a social evil. But, it need not be true that income inequality is unjustifiable. It is perhaps true that some people are brilliant, and work harder. But, there are some clear-cut cases where this simply does not apply. Many workers can raise their income twenty folds by moving from a third world country to a western capitalistic democracy. A large majority of the people on the earth earns far less then they deserve because income is “locally determined”.  This is obvious, but few intellectuals take this seriously enough. Therefore, what pains them is not inequality.

Humility is considered a virtue. But, it is not clear that someone who has a modest opinion of himself accurately perceives reality. It is still possible that they are overestimating themselves. Hitler might claim that he had his flaws. It is not clear that someone who has a high opinion of herself is overestimating herself. Ayn Rand had once said that she wanted “The Fountainhead” to sell at least a hundred thousand copies. But, there are situations where it is perfectly safe to not rate yourself very highly. I think the world would be a better place if people were willing to trust the experts. Experts have spent decades studying subjects of which people know nothing about. They know more than the common public. But, when a common person disagrees with Milton Friedman, he is not likely to think that Friedman could be right. People do not value such humility. Therefore, what pains them is not lack of humility. Continue Reading

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I have never read this before.

I have been hearing for long that reading the newspapers is the mark of a good boy. So, I have been reading the newspapers regularly to see what our salt-and-pepper-haired, intelligent people say. From what I hear, these are the people who know the ground reality. Their opinions do not come out of an ivory tower, like that of mine or that of academics.

But, when I read them, I feel that I have never read such highbrow English before. I have never read such lame theorizing before. But, it makes a lot of sense to read them because it is wrong to have such “prejudices”. It is wrong to dismiss people without giving their views a fair hearing. Let me read. I will begin with Mint-The WSJ, a newspaper of high editorial standards. Continue Reading

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“I have not written and published to please other people, but to satisfy myself, just as a cow gives milk, not to profit the dairyman, but to satisfy herself.”-H. L. Mencken

One of my most painful childhood memories is that of rising onto my toes, and asking my aunt whether we can make Onion-Vada’s without using onions.  She said, “I do not know what you are talking about. How do we make Onion-Vada’s without onions?” She was cutting onions and there were tears in my eyes. I did not like the taste of onions. I stood there, confused, watching the swift movement of her fingers. And, I felt that I could see the mist through the window.

I must have been three years old then, and she was still a teenager. I also remember that she used to call me a book-worm. When I used to insist that I wanted to join her when she takes her bath, she would raise her hand as if she was trying to smack me. She never did that, but I would then stare at her palms, hoping against hope that she did. It would have felt good. I remember someone who was unapologetic about it. I would then lie on the bed counting the marks of her fingers wondering whether it was all a dream, or whether it actually happened. Continue Reading